The 2023 World Series of Poker got underway in Las Vegas as the 54th annual celebration of poker kicked off in style with two contrasting events. The $500 buy-in Casino Employees Event #1 kicked off proceedings, and it was then followed by the $25,000 High Roller Event #2, which saw stars such as Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu enter the fray.
Texas Dolly Tribute Opens the Show
The opening day of the World Series is a little like Christmas Day for poker players and the excitement was palpable inside the Horseshoe Las Vegas, newly decorated after welcoming players as Bally’s in 2022. With Paris Casino also returning to host proceedings in 2023, the WSOP is braced for what could be a record-breaking turnout as live poker is celebrated like never before.
With so many players expected to arrive in Sin City to battle for the 95 gold bracelets on offer in live events and dozens more up for grabs online via WSOP.com, the 54th annual World Series took time to remember one player who will sadly not be here all summer. Doyle Brunson, winner of 10 WSOP bracelets and known as the ‘Godfather of Poker’ sadly passed away earlier this month, and he was the man honored by Jack Effel in the welcoming ceremony.
“As we get another WSOP underway, we’re reminded how indebted we are to the colossal impact Doyle had on the WSOP and the game of poker itself,” said Effel with many fans wondering if the WSOP Main Event will be renamed in Doyle’s honor. “Doyle was the sport’s biggest ambassador who helped bring poker to the mainstream. He is a legend that we had the honor to work alongside for more than 50 years. We owe so much to Doyle and look forward to setting records this summer as a special tribute to his legacy.”
Today, WSOP paid tribute to the Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson pic.twitter.com/vPO8IBD51m
— WSOP – World Series of Poker (@WSOP) May 31, 2023
Daniel Rezaei Leads Surviving 65 After Day 1 of $25k High Roller
There were 174 entries on the opening day of the $25,000 Event #2, with 65 players surviving to Day 2 without the need to re-enter tomorrow at the close of registration. When the dust settled, it was the Austrian player Daniel Rezaei who sat at the top of the leaderboard, piling up 1,368,000 chips to lead from Justin Liberto (1,147,000) and Brek Schutten (1,050,000). Others who made the top 10 that apart from Rezaei was an all-American roster included Sean Winter (1,047,000), Brock Wilson (1,009,000) and the recent WPT winner Bin Weng (975,000).
There were also top 10 placements for the hugely popular PokerGO high roller regular Bill Klein (888,000) and the six-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu (610,000) who re-entered to good effect on Day 1 in his bid to win a first bracelet in Las Vegas for 15 years. Others to star included the record four-time WPT winner Darren Elias (685,000), multiple WSOP bracelet winner and Chip Leader Coaching owner Chance Kornuth (615,000) and last year’s WSOP Main Event winner Espen Jorstad (563,000).
Hovering a little further back in the field are some sharks who bleed WSOP success. No-one has won more bracelets than the 16-time WSOP champion Phil Hellmuth, who survived with an above average stack of 340,000. Hellmuth will share the felt with Bin Weng when Day 2 begins, along with Joey Weisman. Cary Katz (238,000) will be confident of progression on Day 2, while Shaun Deeb (75,000) is one of several big names looking to spin up a stack quickly in order to get back into contention.
Plenty of stellar names didn’t make the final cut, with Britain’s most successful tournament player Stephen Chidwick, Brazilian former online world number one Yuri Dzivielevski, the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year Josh Arieh, and triple bracelet winner Scott Seiver all failing to bag up at the close of Day 1. They’ll have the chance to get back into the mix before the cards are in the air on Day 2.
WSOP 2023 Event #2 $25,000 High Roller Day 1 Top 10 Chipcounts:
Tam Leads from Fullen in Crazy Casino Employees Event
Last year’s version of the traditional series opener, the $500-entry Casino Employees Event #1 garnered 832 entries, but this year, the field has swelled to an impressive 1,015 players. Each of them battled hard on their way to the end-of-day chipcounts, but it was Benson Tam who did the best, piling up 889,000 chips on his way to ending the action as the chip leader. It was the popular PokerNews presenter Jesse Fullen who snuck into second place on 861,000 chips, and he’ll have plenty of fans on the rail cheering him on when Day 2 resumes the action.
The PokerNews fanbase will not only have Fullen to cheer for, as their former champion in the 2013 iteration of this event, Chad Holloway, bagged up 211,000 chips ten years since he lifted the bracelet. Holloway, no stranger to running deep in events with this level of buy-in, has a vast reputation in covering Mid Stakes Poker Tour (MSPT) events and is sure to be a popular winner if he can repeat his heroics of a decade earlier.
Obligatory @wsop bag picture. Made Day 2 of Event 1: $500 Casino Employee. About 90 players returning tomorrow. 20 bigs and a dream for bracelet No. 2.
— Chad Holloway (@ChadAHolloway) May 31, 2023
Two others to star on the opening day of this three-day event were prominent female players Lisa Eckstein (775,000) and Sandra Faabeng (499,000), who staked the strongest claims to inheriting the crown from last year’s 2022 WSOP bracelet winner in the corresponding event, Katie Kopp. There was no sign of Kopp in the Day 2 counts, so a new name will be in the record books on Thursday night.
WSOP 2023 Event #1 $500 Casino Employees Day 1 Top 10 Chipcounts:
He’s gone incredibly early, but Phil ‘The Poker Brat’ Hellmuth is already looking to live up to his billing as WSOP’s ‘Greatest Showman’ with this suggestion for a Main Event entry outfit.
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) May 31, 2023
PokerGO is the place to be for live streaming the World Series of Poker 2023. Sign up today and access all the action from Las Vegas, Nevada, the home of the WSOP.